As England went into the initial lockdown last March the government issued an ‘everyone in’ direction for councils to provide emergency housing for rough sleepers and vulnerable homeless people to prevent the spread of the virus. Since then in Oxford, 355 people have been given emergency housing, with 196 of these people helped into more permanent accommodation.
In 2019/20, the last full year before the pandemic, the City Council spent £6.3m on preventing homelessness and rough sleeping. Emergency support arrangements and the ongoing transformation of homelessness services now mean that the Council expects to invest £9.1m in preventing homelessness in 2021/22 – 44 per cent higher than before the pandemic struck.
Between April 2020 and March 2021 ODS operatives carried out a total of 2209 room cleans – an essential element of the partnership work between OCC, homeless charities and ODS to support homeless people during the pandemic.
ODS employs two dedicated operatives and one supervisor to regularly clean and sanitise the rooms, as well as carrying out comprehensive deep cleans and cleans of the communal hallways. There are also two operatives at weekends to continue the communal hallway cleaning, so it’s a seven-day-a-week service.
During a regular clean ODS operatives vacuum all floors, clean and sanitise all hard surfaces, empty bins, clean the bathrooms, toilets and sinks, and change the bedding if required.
A deep clean is similar but, after the above has been done, the operatives additionally clean carpets, repair various items where required and make the beds ready for a new person to occupy the room.
The YHA is currently the main building used by St Mungo’s, however there have been other sites that have offered out rooms and ODS also cleans these.
Cleaning during SWEP
Additional rooms are used at the YHA when the City Council’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is engaged and these are also cleaned by ODS. SWEP is a separate initiative for the homeless, which was set up before Covid. ODS became involved in the cleaning since the pandemic to ensure all rooms have a thorough clean and are sanitised.
“Life is difficult for homeless people at the best of times, but the Covid crisis brought additional problems that needed innovative solutions, including providing shelter in the Oxford YHA. I want to thank the ODS crew for their dedicated working in keeping this accommodation clean – it’s an essential part of making the scheme work.”
Cllr Mike Rowley, Cabinet Member for Citizen Focused Services
“Our highly trained cleaning team have consistently risen to the challenge exemplifying the ‘doing good’ that ODS stands for within the community. Throughout the pandemic they have worked with OCC and St Mungo’s to support those most vulnerable in our community with great professionalism, courtesy and displaying a pride in a job well done.”
Bruce Thompson, ODS City Centre and Streetscene Services Manager
“The cleaners are doing a fantastic job. They are hardworking, polite and I’m really impressed not only with their work ethic but how they communicate with clients and staff. The ODS team is always in good spirits and does a cracking job.”
Loren Hessey, Deputy Manager YHA Oxford St Mungo’s,